By Elder Lynette Shek
We are coming to the end of the year, and some of us may feel that time is marching on. Another year is passing, and we wonder where the time has gone. For others, it may feel like we are in the movie “Groundhog Day”, where we re-live the same day over and over again since we are mostly confined to home, work for some, church and then home again.
How should the Christian think about time? There are 2 Greek words in the New Testament that is translated “time” in our English Bible – chronos, used 54 times and kairos, used 81 times. Chronos is time as measured by minutes and hours, days and years. Kairos, on the other hand, can be thought of as “opportune time”, “a significant moment” or “God-ordained time”. Jesus’ birth was a kairos event in history, as was the cross, as it says in Romans 5:6, “You see, at just the right time (kairos), when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”
As human beings, we need to be aware of chronos time because we have a duty of responsibility to school, work, church and each other. However, if we only have a chronos mindset, we tend to become slaves to our schedules, either focusing on the urgent (and often neglecting the important), or going from event to event without pausing to breathe and reflect. Kairos, however, means we pay attention and take advantage of the times, seasons and moments. I like an analogy I read describing the difference – living with a chronos outlook is like an ox with blinkers on ploughing the field day after day; living on kairos time is like a hawk, intentionally scanning the landscape for opportunity.
How then, does the Christian practice kairos living? I would like to suggest that it means the following things.
First, we are to make the most of our time. Eph 5:15-16 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” We are to make the most of the opportunities God sends our way. This may mean stopping to pray with someone who shares with you a hurt or burden as you chat in church. It may mean stopping to explain a biblical truth with your child even if you feel you have a million things to do. It may mean inviting someone to the Christmas service instead of spending 15 minutes scrolling through Facebook.
Second, it sometimes means waiting. We are in the advent season now, and we are preparing our hearts through waiting. But this waiting is not passive. This waiting is hopeful, expectant and prayerful, making space for the kairos moments when God shows up. He may show up right away or when we least expect Him, but He will, and we should be ready to join Him when He does.
Third, it means being aware that God is always working. We need to slow down and remind ourselves of God’s many interventions in our lives. We should recollect with hearts of joyous gratitude (Rev Mark Chan’s words last weekend) the unexpected times when God has shown up with His love, grace and mercy in the ups and downs of our existence.
The year 2021 will be over in 2 weeks. That is chronos time. But oh, the expectant hope we can have that God will work through kairos moments. As you look back on the past 2 years, do you see God working in your life, in His time and in His way? For those of us who moan the rapid passing of time, may I encourage you to take an hour off each week for the next 2 weeks, and spend that time looking back at how God has worked in 2021. Spend each hour thinking of at least 10 things to thank God for, and you will be amazed at the kairos moments that the Lord, in His grace, has given you. It doesn’t matter whether we are 18 or 81 years old. Let us, instead of counting our years, make our moments count as our hearts overflow with gratitude towards God as we rejoice in the birth of our Lord Jesus.